Everton, Burnley or Leeds: Who will suffer relegation drop?

Norwich City’s relegation to the Championship has already been confirmed and Watford are almost certain to join them in the second tier after a terrible run of home defeats.

 

But with a handful of Premier League matches still to play, there is set to be an almighty scrap to avoid the drop over the next couple of weeks.

 

Aston Villa, Brentford and Southampton all sit on 40 points and they cannot quite rest easily yet, but the overwhelming likelihood is that they will all have already done enough to survive.

 

The relegation battle therefore focuses on three teams – which will endure the heartbreak?

 

Everton

 

Permanent fixtures in the Premier League era, Everton are teetering on the precipice of doom.

 

Home wins over Manchester United and Chelsea have given the Toffees hope, but while they have a game more to play than their relegation rivals they currently sit two points adrift of safety.

 

The Toffees have lost 12 of their past 14 away games in the league, which means they cannot expect much from their upcoming road trips, though a visit to Watford may yet be fruitful.

 

One thing in Everton’s favour is that they have an undoubted match-winner at both ends of the pitch with Brazil forward Richarlison and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in good form.

 

Lampard’s tactical naivety and lack of experience counts against Everton, though, and few of their players have experience of successfully battling against Premier League relegation.

 

Home form could be everything in the next weeks and Everton fans will be hoping their side can take maximum points from visits of Brentford and Crystal Palace – two safe mid-table teams.

 

Everton have collected 10 points from their past four home league games, that run of Goodison results helping them to stay in touch with the sides above them in the table.

 

A Premier League without Everton almost feels unfathomable. The club last suffered relegation in 1950-51 but results and performances this season speak for themselves.

 

Everton have missed Dominic Calvert-Lewin – restricted by injuries to 12 starts and three goals – but too many players have failed to meet the required standards throughout the campaign.

 

Lampard’s Toffees are not too good to go down and, if anyone at Goodison Park actually believes they are, they could be sorely mistaken.

 

Leeds United

 

The Yorkshire side recently took 10 points from four games to seemingly move clear of relegation danger, yet their rivals have since hauled Leeds right back into the relegation mire.

 

Two games without scoring a goal shows they still miss Patrick Bamford badly and there are no guarantees that the England striker will be fit to return by the end of the season. Leeds have at least welcomed back key players Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips to the spine of their side, but the femoral fracture sustained by Stuart Dallas recently is a further blow to their survival hopes.

 

The heavy defeats suffered by Leeds this season have left them with the worst defensive record in the Premier League and their goal difference means they are effectively a point worse off too.

 

New manager Jesse Marsch is new to the Premier League and clearly understands Leeds, with the American keen to hype up the impact of the club’s passionate supporters at every single opportunity. The former RB Leipzig boss is not used to life at bottom of a league table, though, and Leeds perhaps have the most daunting fixture list of the teams battling against relegation.

 

Leeds go to Arsenal and host Chelsea in their next games before wrapping up the campaign with a home game against Brighton and a trip to Brentford. They are in severe danger.

 

Burnley

 

While Burnley’s sacking of Sean Dyche raised eyebrows and smelled of panic in the Turf Moor boardroom, caretaker manager Mike Jackson has inspired an extraordinary turnaround in form.

 

After opening his spell in charge with a 1-1 draw at West Ham – which could have been a win had Maxwel Cornet converted a penalty he won himself when the Clarets led – Burnley have won three games out of three to climb out of the bottom three for the first time since October.

 

Jackson has welcomed back Dwight McNeil and Jack Cork to the side and given his team freedom to play more attacking front-foot football, changes that have reaped rewards. But they still tend to start games slowly and needed a remarkable comeback with late goals from Cork and midfield partner Josh Brownhill to complete last week’s stunning 2-1 win at Watford.

 

On paper at least, Burnley have the kindest fixture list with home and away games against out of form Villa to come, while they host already-safe Newcastle United on the last day. With eight players scoring Burnley’s last eight goals, the burden of dragging themselves out of danger and to a sixth straight season in the Premier League is being shared out. Just like Everton, Burnley have a goalkeeper in outstanding form in the shape of Nick Pope, while 21-year-old defender Nathan Collins has deputised brilliantly for injured captain Ben Mee – part of Jackson’s staff.

 

Jackson has played down his own incredible impact though his points per game ratio is higher than Pep Guardiola’s in 2021-22. But one thing is sure: the end of the season will be a Thriller.

Author: Tamara Kim